Sec. Dureza: wrong ‘angle’ in news report can affect peace talks

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 August) – Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Sec. Jesus Dureza today warned that giving news reports a wrong “angle” could compromise the outcome of peace negotiations [with rebel groups].

Dureza was reacting to a recent report in a major national daily which highlighted the military activities being done by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as an indication that the rebel group was preparing for the possibility of renewed war against the government.

“That’s not news. That’s what a rebel group is expected to do,” he said, referring to the recruitment and arms procurement efforts being done by the MILF.

The secretary also cited a news report which almost cost the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.

He said the report sent the wrong signal to the Philippine government by insinuating that the truce would tie the hands of the military vis-à-vis the rebel group.

Dureza, who spoke to editors and senior journalists attending the First Northern Mindanao Media Conference here, noted that editors in Manila tend to give stories from Mindanao a particular spin that gives readers the impression that the island is in a state of war.

Mindanao reporters wake up the next day to see that the context of their stories has been lost, he said, adding there’s a problem when editors like to give stories a “war spin”.

But Dureza refused to comment on how the Aquino government should pursue peace talks with the MILF saying he does not want his statements to be misconstrued. “Baka sabihin na nagpapogi lang ako (They might say I’m just showing off),” he explained.

“I will offer my suggestions on the [peace negotiation] directly to the new peace panel,” he said.

Dureza also clarified that he did not tender a resignation.

“I offered my resignation [as MinDA secretary] to give the president a free hand…My offer has not been acted upon,” he said.

“Executive Order No. 2 clarified that mine wasn’t a ‘midnight appointment’,” he stressed.

The media conference started today and will end on Aug. 16. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)